Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting a landmark study that will investigate the effectiveness of cannabis based medicine in the treatment of agitation in dementia patients.  Kings College London will run the clinical trial and Alzheimers Research UK has allocated funding of £300,000 to establish the feasibility of treating people living with dementia who exhibit symptoms of agitation or aggression with the cannabis derivative Sativex.  Currently Sativex is licensed in the Uk for the treatment of patients with muscular impairment due to conditions like multiple sclerosis however, there is some evidence that it can also have a calming effect and that is what the study will focus on.

The study will seek to recruit volunteers with Alzheimer’s currently living in care homes between the ages of 55 to 90 and will follow them over a period of four weeks. During the trial some of the volunteers will be given Sativex and others a placebo. Results will then be analysed to see if there is a case for a much larger clinical trial.

One of the  most challenging aspects of caring for someone with dementia are outbursts of aggression and heightened agitation, this can also prove distressing for the person with dementia too. It’s estimated that somewhere around half of the people living with dementia will experience these symptoms which is why Alzheimer’s Research have thrown there support behind what could be considered a radical option.

Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “With no new dementia treatments in over 15 years, it is vital that we test a wide range of approaches to find effective ways to help people living with the condition.”  He goes on to add “While a major focus for dementia research is to develop drugs that slow or stop the progression of the physical diseases that cause dementia, what really matters is that a medicine benefits people’s day-to-day lives.”  “The trial opens the door to a treatment that may help to alleviate an extremely challenging set of symptoms, and Alzheimer’s Research UK is extremely grateful to our supporters for making this important work possible.”